Thursday, Jan 6, 2012;
Travel days are sometimes tiring and frustrating. That is not to say the return across the Drake was frustrating. It was the usual pitching and rolling but this time not as bad as the previous passage. Only a few times were people thrown from their dinner table chairs. Much laughter and no one injured. You have to remember to keep your feet OUTSIDE of the chair legs. And always hold the table with a free hand. A roll of 15 degrees was not unheard of, but it was the unpredictable timing of the rolling that was the problem.
We disembarked the ship in Ushuaia after breakfast on Tuesday, Jan 3rd. Transfer to the tiny airport for 5 hour wait. Free WiFi but SLOW and intermittent so any posting was not happening. We landed Buenas Aires late afternoon and had a good supper at local San Telmo neighborhood establishment. Now we selectively repacked for a short 3 day visit to the “tropics”. Two bags left behind. It was to be in the mid-90s and humid in Iguassu Falls, Brazil and Argentina.
Five of us on the Antarctica trip had booked the extension trip to Iguassu Falls. It was much cheaper as an extension than doing it on your own. Border crossing should be easier as well. Todd from Toronto, Canada did not have the $140 visa for Brazil so he would have to hotel 2 nights and tour only on the Argentina side of the park. A Melbourne couple, Walter and Veronica, and Meg and I would hotel two nights in Brazil and visit both sides. The airport is in Argentina and is close to both side of the park and the towns near it. The tour was to be handled by a subcontractor. Apparently, this is not an uncommon occurrence in the industry.
The border crossing(s) was something to experience. The driver colleced the passports of the passengers and did the navigation of the paper work. That WAS A GOOD THING. But the line of trucks, buses, cars, and tourist vans was amazing. Miles on the road. Special lanes and windows for each type of vehicle/situation. It took 45 minutes to exit Argentina. Across the river border and into the Brazilian passport control. Not to be out done by the Argentinians, more of the same from the Brazilians. 8 miles from airport to hotel took 2 hours! with for the border crossing on Wednesday afternoon. Oh yeah Brazil clocks were 1 hour different from Argentina; 4 PM Argentina = 5 PM Brazil.
We were deposited by the driver at the hotel in the small city, Foz de Iguaco with no written info and only a “Pickup is at 8 AM in the lobby”. For people who like solid information about what is to happen and who to contact, this was far from satisfactory. Grumbles from the two couples but in the 95 degree evening, we went out for Brazilian BBQ. Tasty and not expensive.
After returning from dinner and having a cool-warm, refreshing shower, our guide phoned with some details. Still no written info. Next morning, we were joined by three more couples from around the world to visit the Argentinian side of the Park. Pre or Post trip extension tours can be “throw-togethers”. Two of the “new” couples had done Brazilian park the day before with the guide. The three new couples and our guy in Argentina (to be picked up after the border crossings!!?) would do Argentinian side today and then Brazil side the next day. Confused? We were as well. The Thursday morning border crossing only took one hour.
Miles of cars to get into the Argentinian side of the park. Since we the guide had our tickets already, we went into a in faster lane than those in the long line that did not have the tickets. “12,000 visitors a day on this side.” He knew the short cuts inside the park to avoid the big lines. But nothing can prepare you for the crowds on the walkways to the Falls. Bumpertobumper and wait for a space at the rail to shoot.
But the Falls ARE AMAZING, Niagara Falls times 5 or 6. Multi leveled falls, spray everywhere, dozens of rainbows in the spray. The temperature above 95o F (36 o C) and very humid.
Meg and I opted not to take the boat into the spray on the river…”You will get drenched. Have a change of clothes ready.” We were looking for the scenics and there were countless versions of multilayered, rainbowed thousand foot drop waterfalls. This place is deserving of the Wonders of the World UNESCO designation.
Friday three couples, and a new one, visited the Brazilian side. Entry at 9 AM gave us somewhat smaller crowds and temperatures in the mid-80s. It was a bit anti-climactic after the views and spray of the day before on the Argentina side. Our views were mainly distance views of the AMAZING miles and miles of falls on the Argentinian side. There were a few intimate shots of the Brazil side that might make good wall art. Still an amazing sight with tremendous rainbows. And an easy set of border crossings that evening.
“Travel light and wear a smile.” Jack Holmes